In the mid-1970s, a jazz renaissance blossomed in large New York loft spaces that the musicians had reclaimed from the depressed blocks of the trendy Soho and Noho areas. The Wildflowers sessions, originally released on Douglas on five LPs, captured performances by almost 100 musicians in numerous configurations. The recordings were made over two weekends at the most famed of the lofts, Studio Rivbea, the home and workspace of saxophonist-flutist-composer Sam Rivers
and his wife, Beatrice. Rivers orchestrated the lineup, played host to patrons, and performed as well. The sessions featured many figures well-established in New York, including Rivers, drummer Andrew Cyrille
, and pianist Randy Weston
, but they also attracted players from the seedbed of so much African American aesthetic jazz exploration in the 1960s and '70s, Chicago.
In addition, Rivers invited to town some key players from Philadelphia and New Haven; there were several newcomers to New York, too, including, from out West, a very young David Murray. The music all had immediacy and urgency fitting to the aesthetic task at hand--to consolidate the gains of the free-jazz and New Thing movements of the 1960s. Indeed, many of the players remain key figures today in that project: Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, and Leo Smith among them. In addition to their performances, highlights of the package include Rivers's radiant meandering over his composition "Rainbow"; pianist Weston's impassioned homage to his father; and performances by important, but often under-recognized innovators, including saxophonist Ken McIntyre and pianist Dave Burrell. Here is a seminal document in American music. --Peter Monaghan